Bryan Singer is the director that certainly caught a lot of attention as director of such acclaimed hits “The Usual Suspects” and “APT Pupil”. The man then reached mainstream fame with the first two “X-Men” films and “Valkyrie”. Though his “SupermanReturns“ was a film that I am sure he‘d rather forget, Singer is a good director, and when given the right material and premise, he can indeed create cinematic wonder. This was why I went to see “Jack The Giant Slayer”, a film that has been inspired by the fairy tales “Jack and the Beanstalk” and “Jack the Giant Killer”.
Together with screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie (who had reworked the film’s screenplay after director D.J. Caruso had left the project) Singer's film is something that is sure to catch the eye of young viewers. I noticed that it was something that may have been made by someone who had sat through too many family movies with their children and instead goes for something more along the lines of fantasy and adventure to keep adult minds a little busy.
The film begins with the narration of a tale of giants and men, told by a father and a mother from a different place and lifestyle, to their children; Jack and Princess Isabelle have become all too familiar with this tale whose roots have now become legend. Jack grows up to be a young farm boy (now played by Nicholas Hoult, Warm Bodies) while Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson, The Illusionist) has grown to strong young woman who wants to see how the world around her truly worked, their paths are destined to cross one another’s and this path would change their lives.
One day Jack is in the town market place, where a monk coerces him into trading a steed for a bag of beans. Little did he know that this very bag of beans is the same ones that he had heard of from the legends told him by his father. Now, Jack and Isabelle have been caught in this realm of magic and legend, her father the king (played by Ian McShane) has sent a rescue party led by his best warrior Elmont (Ewan McGregor) and Lord Roderick (Stanley Tucci) to rescue Isabelle. Little do they know that Roderick has his own agenda and he intends to the take the kingdom either by politics or force.
I know the plot sounds familiar and honestly it is very predictable. This is a family film after all wrapped around the staples of fantasy and adventure. Bryan Singer does somehow manage to find the strengths of its screenplay, and was able to make those things its central focus. This is all about a tale of betrayal, greed and heroism. The underdog becomes the hero with a damsel in distress as the main prize. The core of its plot is pretty much your usual tale, and it sticks close to the inspirations from its source material. What made the film work for me is the way Singer uses his usual clever touches to bring forth the script’s strong points.
The film does have cool touches of modern day idiosyncrasies. I did like the way it added several nice touches such as ‘pigs in a blanket’, the manner of which it made use of the fairy tales’ strong points to expand on its story. No, the film isn’t a grand epic, but the film had its own peculiar wit and charm. It is a delightful interweaving of adventure and legends, as Singer also makes it a point to say that legends are based on a semblance of reality. Time also plays a part, as stories become passed on from one generation to the next, the true story becomes muddled and the truth becomes less of a real tale and becomes more of a legendary tale to tell children.
Being a film based on a fairy tale, Singer makes the visual effects a handsome treat. The costumes and set pieces are impressive, as he was able to immerse the viewer into this world of giants and men. The giant character designs were real clever and each one had its distinct share of personality while having that one common feature on them. They looked like something really inspired by a fairy tale. The film has a PG-13 rating, and so Singer holds back on any gruesome, and violent images. It is also low on blood, as befitting a film of this kind. The film has a decent share of action and some very credible battles. The siege on the castle of Brahmwell by the giants was competently staged, as the ancient war between giants and men reach the tipping point. The animated CGI and voice-acting for the over-sized galoots were pretty impressive and this became the film’s bread and butter.
The characters all followed the trappings of most movies we’ve seen of this kind. It was a good thing that the performances were competent enough to carry the flow of its script. Hoult and Tomlinson may have struggled a little in forming a chemistry but in the end they became successful leads. McGregor and Tucci played the secondary characters. I liked the way they were interjected into the film’s main premise, and while they made significant impact to its narrative, they weren’t exactly anything special. I just found that while the performances were decent, none of them did not really make a huge impression. It was more due to Bryan Singer’s sense of timing, execution and direction that the film kept an even, entertaining pace.
Admittedly, I may not be the film’s target audience. This was still a fairy tale at its heart. I loved how it tried to expand on its premise, developing certain aspects from the fairy tales to make for a more entertaining film for the young and old alike. Singer made a great effort in this film. It is indeed a more family-oriented film, but its clever humor and wit with its superb visuals could make the film a delightful watch. Yes, it is ‘fairy tale cute’ but thankfully not in the way that I usually would turn away. “Jack the Giant Slayer” is by no means a masterpiece, but it is sure to charm its target audience that it gets a recommendation from me. [3 ½ Out of 5 Stars]
For those of you, who managed to get through childhood, without hearing the story of Jack, a farm boy, who sold his horse for some magical beans, don't worry...director Bryan Singer has recreated the story, with some added touches, in his new 3D IMAX film, entitled 'Jack the Giant Slayer'. … more